One of the first harbingers of spring is March’s maple syrup. It is a welcome taste to perk up winter-weary taste buds, and versatile, too. Maple syrup may be added to numerous dishes, both sweet and savory. If you buy your syrup from a farmer’s market rather than a supermarket, you can often choose from light, medium and dark. For cooking, choose the dark for the richest, most intense maple taste. Remember that once you open the container, it must be stored in the refrigerator, not at room temperature, which encourages the growth of moulds.
Roasted onions with maple syrup
Onions have a natural sweetness emphasized by slow roasting and the seductive addition of maple syrup. If you like, you can use a mixture of both cooking onions and red onions, garlic, and shallots. The onions make a tasty accompaniment to poultry, ham, pork, or lamb.
8 onions, (about 2 lbs/ 1 kg)
1/4 cup (60 mL) dark maple syrup
2 tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp (2 mL) sea salt
1/4 tsp (1 mL) fresh black pepper
Tip: To peel onions easily, cut in half from root end to leaf end and peel outside layer away. Discard. Trim ends and add to mixing bowl.
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line 13 x 9-inch (3 L) baking dish with foil and spray with baking spray.
To the bowl of onions add maple syrup, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Arrange in single layer in baking dish. Bake uncovered about 45 minutes to an hour turning at least once to coat in juices. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Maple syrup mustard glaze
This simple sauce is great on pork, ham and chicken pieces. The recipe can be batched up to coat a larger quantity of meat.
1/4 cup (60 mL) packed brown sugar
2 tbsp (30 mL) maple syrup
1 tbsp (15 mL) cider vinegar
1 tsp (5 mL) dry mustard
In a mixing bowl, stir together brown sugar, maple syrup, vinegar and mustard until smooth. Brush glaze or spoon onto the surface of the meat. Cook according to directions for the roast, spooning sauce over meat periodically. This is enough glaze to coat about 2 lbs (1 kg) of meat.
Strawberries and cream, Canadian style
If there was ever a simple dessert that says “spring,” this is it. You can serve the strawberries hot or at room temperature.
2 cups (500 mL) fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/2 cup (125 mL) dark maple syrup
2 tbsp (30 mL) rye whisky or maple whisky (optional)
2 cups (500 mL) plain yogurt
1/4 cup (60 mL) maple syrup
1 tsp (5 mL) whisky (optional)
In a mixing bowl, stir together sliced strawberries, maple syrup and whisky, if using. If you are serving at room temperature, spoon strawberries into four serving dishes. Cover until serving time. May be assembled up to two hours in advance.
If serving hot, spoon into baking dish; cover until ready to heat. To heat: preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Bake strawberries 20 to 25 minutes or until heated through. Serve with a generous dollop of maple cream.
Maple Cream: In a mixing bowl, stir together yogurt, maple syrup and whisky if using. Spoon into a serving dish to accompany strawberries.
Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer ~ email@example.com